Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June Book of the Month

Frederic Spotts
Yale University Press, 2008

Usually, I write a book review every month for our web site that relates somewhat to the time and experiences we had while on active duty. Others have highlighted major American figures that have leveraged their military careers into civilian and political leadership positions at times of major national crisis. I like these stories about our leaders rising from a fairly common but purposeful American childhood where no one would have guessed their innate abilities or the scope of their future. Those “who earned their wings” through the eyes of their comrades in the most trying of circumstances. They are the story of America and they are thus compelling in both spirit and patriotism. Their successes were a large part of the foundations for American Exceptionalism. Our history, in many instances, is their lives.

But, this month I am taking a different tack and one that I hope you enjoy. Those of us who served in the C-133’s during the early 60’s fondly remember our many trips to Chatteroux, France, hopping the train to Paris, spending the nights in the American Hotel for $2.00, and I could go on for some time. But, WWII was only a scant 15 years past and one of the most “inglorious responses to Nazi rule” was still largely unspoken. It was a cloud that we did not know about. It was the shameful story of the French cultural establishment and their collaboration with the Germans in order to live a life of luxury and safety during the occupation of France, especially in Paris. Traitorous collaboration was so conspicuous that a spontaneous purge began the moment allied troops entered Paris resulting in an estimated 1600 summary executions.

In my opinion, the lack of serious study of French history under German rule is second only to the indifference by contemporary scholars to the criminal dimension of Communism. Such blatant absence of academic research undermines the fabric of worldwide democracy. In both examples, it seems telling that the intellectuals aligned themselves with the enemy of humanity rather than their fellow man. Seemingly, they have now chosen a path that hides their cowardly deeds and their involvement in these two movements of such evil that the world still shudders from its content. Why did they do it and why do they deny it?

But, now comes The Shameful Peace by Frederic Spotts casting a brilliant light upon the disgraceful and dishonorable actions of French artists and intellectuals during the Nazi occupation. We can only hope that more such serious studies are to emerge, as they should help citizens of all countries in evaluating their leadership during times of crisis. I considered reviewing it; but I can add nothing to that published in the WSJ by Mark Falcoff of the American Enterprise Institute. I urge you to click on the following red link: "Collaborative Artists: The French cultural establishment's inglorious response to Nazi rule" for his critical examination of this subject. You will not be sorry!

Now, I would like to turn my/your attention to another item of interest as you read history: History as fiction designed to unite us. It was not always that historians tried to tell a dispassionate truth to the reader. They were writing stories, more often than not, to persuade and to unite us around a common theme or cause that they felt important. There is no such thing as a real story. Stories are told or written, not found. Thus, a true story is a virtual contradiction in terms and all are fiction. But, is the truth always fiction or is fiction always the truth? Many say there is no such thing as fiction anymore as anything can happen. I always use September 11, 2001, as an example of fiction that became truth.

The historian’s problem is to always interpret things as they happened but personal experiences often bias his final analysis. So, what is the truth? The truth is more often found if you are familiar with the writer’s life experiences. Thus, in order to better understand history one must know the writer and his connections to the matter that is being examined. For a full discussion of this concept go to: History as Fiction Designed to Unite Us as I think you will enjoy this introductory analysis to historical revisionism. It does ring true as both authors and their subjects are only human and we all know the frailties of each. I know that my life experiences encroach upon my thoughts of what I consider the truth and I bet yours do as well!


Richard Spencer
39th ATS, MATS
KDOV, 1962-1965

Friday, June 26, 2009

Comfort & Dull.....not bad!

F-16 vs. C-133

A C-133 was lumbering along when a cocky F-16 flashed by.
The jet jockey decided to show off.

The fighter jock told the C-133 pilot, 'watch this!' and promptly
went into a barrel roll followed by a steep climb. He then finished
with a sonic boom as he broke the sound barrier. The F-16 pilot
asked the C-133 pilot what he thought of that?

The C-133 pilot said, 'That was impressive, but watch this!'
The C-133 droned along for about 5 minutes and then the C-133
pilot came back on and said: 'What did you think of that?'
Puzzled, the F-16 pilot asked, 'What the heck did you do?'
The C-133 pilot chuckled. 'I stood up, stretched my legs, walked
to the back, went to the bathroom, then got a cup of coffee and a
cinnamon bun.'

When you are young & foolish - speed & flash may seem a good thing !!!

When you get older & smarter - comfort & dull is not such a bad thing !!!

Us old folks understand this one!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bigger Than a 747

I checked this in Wikipedia and the plane actually was built in Russia during the 1930s. It flew 11 times before crashing and killing 15 people. The designer, Konstantin Kalinin, wanted to build two more planes, but the project was scrapped. Later Stalin had Kalinin executed. Evidently it was not good to fail on an expensive project under Stalin. It's got propellers on the back of the wings, too!! It looks like 16 engines all told. The Empire State Builiding on its side, with cannons. Not only a bunch of engines but check out the cannons the thing was carrying!

In the 1930s, the Russian army was obsessed by the idea of creating huge planes. At that time they were proposed to have as many propellers as possible to help carry those huge flying fortresses into the air, jet propulsion had not yet been implemented. Not many photos were saved because of the high secrecy levels of such projects. Still on the photo below you can see one such plane - a heavy bomber K-7.

For more photos and info, click on: Airplane Giant K7

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dolly Take-off

Ever see a float plane without wheels take-off from land?

Thought you might like to see what kind of aviation related things they do in Prince George, B.C. You have seen float planes come and go...but bet you haven't seen one take off like this. This video was taken in Prince George....got to give the pilot full marks for guts. I imagine you only get one shot at this... notice the fire truck following them... they obviously had a few doubts themselves.

When a floatplane is landed on the grass and taken to the hangar for maintenance, obviously it has to depart once again. Landing a floatplane on grass is easier than becoming airborne on grass. This is where 'Dolly' comes in. Put the aircraft on a 'dolly', fire it up, tow it down the runway, and, once a certain speed is attained, push the throttle to 'Warp Factor 9', and you are airborne.

Get ready, here is how the good people at Hill Aircraft Service Ltd. in Prince George, B.C., accomplish a 'dolly take-off'!'

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Calling All Navigators!

Memories of James Connally AFB.....

Click here for an interesting website of history and photo gallery:
JCAFB Navigators & Obervers Website

Click on this red link to go to a photo gallery of the:
T-29 Flying Classroom

Finally, click on the following red link for a great photo log of:
T-29 Restoration Project